**Trigger warning: Self harm**
Growing up, my coping mechanism was self harm. This took on many different forms over the years but the how isn’t important. The why on the other hand deserves a bit more thought.
People self harm for a lot of different reasons, and for me that was also true.
Sometimes I would self harm in places where people would see. I would do this to get the attention that I craved so much. You see, emotional abuse has no physical markers. People can see a broken bone, but its harder to spot a broken soul. Doing this was rare. When I did get attention, it didn’t fill the void the way I had hoped.
But I realized that it could serve another purpose. It could make me feel. When you get hit, it hurts, but if you continue to hit, you stop feeling. The same happens (at least to me) when you are verbally attacked and put down over and over and over. You stop feeling.
But hurting myself physically allowed me to feel pain in a way that opened up the pressure valve inside me. As the physical pain took over, and eventually became numb, my emotions were able to take over. I could cry. I could feel. And those seconds, minutes, sometimes even hours after that release, I felt a sense of goodness. I wouldn’t call it happiness, more like a warmth that washed over me and replaced all the negative feelings. The adrenaline and endorphins were addicting.
And so self harm became my coping mechanism.
Thankfully over the years, I was able to replace that coping mechanism with healthier ways of coping. However, the urges, they never really go away. It is a constant battle, similar to that of an addict. The urge is always there, it just gets easier to talk yourself out of it over time.
Fast forward to this week …
It has been a tough week. For a few reasons, none of which are important and all of which are too personal to share here (I know, that’s odd of me to say). Everything came to a head on Tuesday evening. Event of which caused me to get so upset that I couldn’t even speak to Mr. D who is by far my biggest supporter. But I had no words, and too many emotions and so I ran away to collect myself.
The entire time I was gone, my thoughts were about different ways that I could self harm. Going through a list of things in my car, or places that I could go to get what I needed. The logistics of where on my body I could do it, and how it would feel. But I didn’t. I was strong. I went to see my Bestie and was able to her (while keeping a respectable social distance). Leaving her house without being able to hug her was SO FREAKING HARD. But I did it.
When I returned home a few hours later, things were still unresolved, and I was numb. I stayed up or hours, trying to distract myself. Sometimes even being successful (with the help of a few wonderful people). Four times I had a knife in my hand, ready to go sit on the bathroom floor. Four times I returned that knife to the drawer.
I had told Jaro about my urges. He was wonderful. He drew a butterfly on himself for me in support. That should have been enough …
In bed, I continued to chat on my phone, play games, but my mind kept going back to that place. Slowly those who were distracting me, went to bed. And there I was left alone with my thoughts. I wanted that knife. I wanted to feel it on my skin. I wanted to feel the release.
5:00 am … my body is almost vibrating with the need to take action. I can feel my hand on my thigh, rubbing at first, over and over. I stop it I try to sit still. I try to quiet my mind. I start trying to flip through different images in my head, trying to find the one that will make things feel better. The distraction worked because I didn’t even realize that the rubbing had turned to scratching, and there, on my hands, under my nails, was blood. I had broken skin.
I stopped immediately. When I reached down and touched my leg, I could feel the burning, the throbbing and I cried. For a second it felt absolutely freaking glorious. And then instead of waves of warmth and endorphins, waves of shame overcame me. I was no longer crying as a release, but was instead crying out of disgust.
I must have cried myself to sleep because I woke up hours later and had to face the music.
I won’t hide my flaws. No matter how ashamed I am, I won’t hide my wounds. And so I had to share with the important people. This part hurts. Knowing that I am letting people down. People who root for me.
I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who love me SO much. Who accept me, flaws and all. Who don’t judge me or hate me because I struggle with mental illness. People who are so good to me that I can’t possibly deserve them in my life … but don’t you dare try to take them away from me because I will fight you tooth and nail to keep them.
And so I slipped. I slipped but life moves on. The urges will be stronger for awhile, especially as I deal with the remnants of the events that happened this week, but over time they will start to get easier again. I will get stronger.